Ginger Seals! and Other News of the Week

Just two short stories today, as The Four-Year-Old is already bounding around upstairs.

It’s Not Easy Being Red

Nafanya off by herself, while her black seal clan gathers at the water's edge. (Photo: Anatoly Strakhov)

The first concerns Nafanya, a lonely ginger-haired seal pup, who was cast out of her black seal clan based on her looks. (Haven’t those seals heard that the world is running out of gingers? We should cherish our red-haired brethren while we can.*)

On hearing this sad tale, The Four-Year-Old promptly offered to make a home for her Ginger Seal Friend in our basement. “We could set up an ice rink down there, just like the Poppers, Mommyo!”

Fortunately for our household’s environmental footprint, the blue-eyed albino seal seems to be settling in happily at her new home at the Akvatoria dolphinarium in Adler, Russia. The Four-Year-Old, never one to be thwarted for long, has already begun lobbying for me to make her a red amigurumi seal. “With pink paws, Mommyo, like Nafanya.”

A Second Earth?

Artist's rendering of Kepler 22b (Image: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

The Four-Year-Old’s recent obsession with all things cosmological got a boost this week with the discovery of Kepler 22b, a potentially habitable planet with a pleasant surface temperature of 72 degrees F. No word yet on whether Kepler 22b actually can support life. That assessment will have to wait another six months, when scientists will be in a position to collect data on the planet’s mass using ground-based observatories.

Calculating Kepler 22b’s mass will help scientists determine whether the planet is made up primarily of rocks and/or water (and thereby capable of supporting life), or primarily of gas (in which case life would be much less likely).  You can bet The Four-Year-Old and I will be following this story in the months to come.

“Mommyo, are redheads really going extinct?”

No. But I thought your Uncle Paul would appreciate a bit of lobbying for the gentle care and treatment of the red-haired set.

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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4 Responses to Ginger Seals! and Other News of the Week

  1. Paul says:

    The brother uncle Paul is appreciative.


  2. Pingback: What to Give Your Favorite Blogger: A Caterpickles Holiday Gift Guide | CATERPICKLES

  3. Pingback: Mid-Week Science News Update: Space ballet | CATERPICKLES

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